Byron Buxton was swinging a hot bat before MLB season broke for the All-Star Break.
In the month of July, Buxton has a batting average of .379 and a slugging percentage (total bases divided by at bats) of .483. It's a sign the 22 year old has finally begun to turn a corner. After struggling early on, Buxton abandoned his leg kick in hopes of putting the ball in play more.
Some diehard baseball fans believe you shouldn't focus on putting the ball on the ground because it limits you to mostly just singles and a lot of outs – and the Twins organization has no intention of turning Buxton into a ground ball hitter.
"Here’s the deal: I clearly do not want Byron Buxton to hit the ball on the ground and run," said fist year hitting coach James Rowson to Brandon Warne of Zone Coverage.com. He went on to say the goal is to use the whole field and hit balls hard.
Buxton's exit velocity has increased lately meaning he's hitting the ball a lot harder.
Although the team doesn't want to turn him into a ground ball hitter, Buxton's speed has helped him leg out 16 infield hits this season. Here are this year's leaders in infield hits, as well as their batting average when the ball is hit on the infield.
- Jose Altuve: 24 infield hits, .176
- Ender Inciarte: 23, .159
- Aledmys Diaz: 21, .162
- Trea Turner: 20, .163
- Eduardo Nunez: 20, .16
- Cesar Hernandez: 18, .202
- Dee Gordon: 17, .106
- Byron Buxton: 16, .195
- Jarrod Dyson: 16, .137
- Orlando Arcia: 16, .131
Altuve – one of the game's best hitters – has the most infield hits this season, but Buxton's average is the second on the list above. In fact, Buxton is batting over 100 points higher than the league average of players hitting the ball to the infield.
Obviously .195 batting average isn't anything to write home about, but basically Buxton's speed is out of this world and it's giving him a leg up – pun intended – on reaching base at a higher rate than most players putting the ball on the ground.
Clearly something has begun to click with Buxton at the plate lately.
Obviously his speed will always be there, but If he continues to hit the ball with better launch angles combined with higher exit velocity, he should be able to keep the good times rolling into the second half of the season.